One New Jersey police officer is facing sexual assault charges after allegedly contacting and attempting to seduce a 12-year-old girl he met on the job. He has been arrested and charged with attempted aggravated sexual assault, in addition to luring and enticing the girl. Since the arrest, he has been suspended without pay and ordered to be held on $250,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

His first reported meeting with the girl was at her home when he was called there for assistance in an unrelated matter. The parents were reportedly upset with the way he acted around their daughter and claimed that he had made inappropriate comments toward the girl, though the specific comments were not disclosed.

After the parent’s complained to officials, other detectives allegedly decided to pretend to pose as the girl in order to catch the man through text messaging. According to investigators, this ruse worked and the man allegedly responded with sexually explicit messages and eventually tried to meet up with the girl.

At this point, it is not exactly clear how the two individuals began their exchange via text message. As such, it is uncertain why the police officer expected texts from the girl.

The man accused of these sex crimes had worked for the police department for a total of 12 years, with no apparent blemished on his record. Since being charged with the crimes, the officer has pleaded not guilty to the charges, a plea which deserves a lot of attention and careful consideration.

It is not uncommon for law enforcement officials to initiate a sting operation, relying on deception, in order to target potential sex offenders. In this case, the police officer was caught as the police were luring him into committing an illegal act.

For the officer who has been charged, there is probably a lot going on in his mind right now. The penalties for conviction for sex crimes and, in particular, sexual assault, can be very harsh. Even though there was no physical act and the charges are for attempted aggravated sexual assault, he faces the possibility of jail time, not to mention the fact he could lose his job and have to register as a sex offender if convicted.

Source: CBS New York, “Woodland Park Cop Accused Of Luring 12-Year-Old Girl For ‘Sexual Purpose’,” April 25, 2012